If you happen to read this story on a Blackberry phone, your device is officially out of date. The company announced that BlackBerry 7.1 OS and earlier, BlackBerry 10 software, and BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.1 no longer available as of today, and warns that “Devices running these legacy services and software over either carrier or Wi-Fi connections will no longer function reliably, including for data, phone calls, SMS, and 9-1-1 functionality . “
But like any other company that hasn’t adapted to the fundamental transformation of the iPhone, Blackberry has never evolved. Even the Key2, which was based on Android and had a touchscreen (and is no longer supported), stubbornly stuck to its tiny physical keyboard that was once the hallmark of the handset, so much so that it was one of the main reasons why Parents at the time The company Research In Motion paid little attention to Apple’s iPhone.
“It was not a threat to the core business of RIM,” said Larry Conlee, senior lieutenant to Mr. Lazaridis, loudly an excerpt from the 2015 book, “Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Fall of BlackBerry.” “It wasn’t safe. It had a quick battery drain and a lousy one [digital] Keyboard.”
Of course, all of these things would either be fixed or forgotten as the iPhone gained popularity. The iPhone’s versatility, design, and camera continued to outperform anything Blackberry brought to market, and within five years that market share was completely eroded as people flocked to phones with digital keyboards. Blackberry never responded to the threat and the rest is history.
Mistakes and lessons
The iPhone beat Blackberry by finding its own way. Steve Jobs may have named Blackberry on stage for its rigid structure and “baby internet”, but the iPhone was not a response to everything RIM did. It was his own business, which is why his competitors partially ignored it until it was too late. Blackberry hastily put together an answer with its own lousy digital keyboard in late 2008 after the iPhone was clearly on the rise. Here is an excerpt from PCWorlds review:
“Typing on the Storm isn’t much fun either. You have to click the on-screen keyboard every time you press a key (the keys flash blue under your fingertips when you click), which feels like a lot of work than if you’re on a hardware keyboard (or on the iPhone’s software keyboard, z that is never mind) never did. I’m also concerned about how well the click screen’s mechanics can withstand the pressure of long-term use from heavy typewriters. “
But Blackberry’s demise doesn’t fall on the shoulders of a phone. Blackberry may not have been able to beat the iPhone or Android, but its biggest mistake was failing to spot a serious competitor, a mistake that is unlikely to repeat itself anytime soon. As we’ve seen with the Apple Watch, AirPods, and iPad, businesses can identify and respond to Apple’s moves much faster, and we’re likely to see a rapid shift when Apple launches its AR / VR headset later this year brings.
The demise of Blackberry is a lesson for Apple too. It may be the first and only $ 3 trillion company in the world, but no lead is guaranteed in the world of technology, even with a product portfolio as successful as Apple’s. Siri is a perfect example – Apple was way ahead until Amazon and Google did better. As Apple prepares to enter several new product categories
These days, it can be easy to point and laugh at Blackberry. But Apple would be wise to learn from the mistakes Blackberry made.
Michael Simon has been reporting on Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC – the IBM Thinkpad with the flip-up keyboard to swap out the drive. He’s still waiting for that to come back in style.